Meet Ayushman Kalita, a grade 7 student who has been recognised as the ‘Young Author’ of the non-fiction science book "Black Holes in a Nutshell” by the Asia Book of Records.

What are black holes? How are they formed and what will happen if you go into a black hole? Even as the concept is lost on most of us because we are still exploring black holes, a 12-year-old has written a book and tried to explain black holes in simpler words. 'Black Holes in a Nutshell: The Hungry Matter no one can Escape' has fetched the young author a spot in the Asia Book of Records even.

Meet Ayushman Kalita, a grade 7 student who has been recognised as the "Young Author' of the non-fiction science book by the Asia Book of Records.

"Black holes are always mysterious. We do not really know a lot about them and this is what caught my interest," says Ayushman. And in his book, 'Black Holes in a Nutshell’, Ayushman has tried to explain the celestial object in a way anyone can understand.

"I have broken down the concept into a simpler format so that kids my age can understand," he says. The book is published by Orange Book Publication and is available on Kindle, Amazon and Flipkart.

It was during the pandemic that Ayushman started writing the book. Having read "The Theory of Everything" by Stephen W Hawking, Ayushman got inspired to write about black holes.

"The lockdown was a blessing in disguise for me. I spent the entire time writing the book," says Ayushman who studies at Orchids The International School-Koparkhairane.

The book was written using information available through books, instructional videos, and YouTube and was completed in a period of over six months. This is his third book. When he was nine, he wrote a book on rocket science titled "Sky Skip 0.2" which was followed by his second book titled "Morse Code". He says that he feels humbled after this rare feat. "My friends are all proud of me. My principal and teachers are very encouraging and I feel so humbled now. I have to keep going." he says.

Ayushman also has a YouTube channel titled "The Animation World" where he explains science and space concepts. Having learned animation by himself, the young boy uses the visual medium to explain concepts better. Ayushman also has a YouTube channel titled "The Animation World" where he explains science and space concepts. Having learned animation by himself, the young boy uses the visual medium to explain concepts better. Ayushman says that as students, one should always be in search of knowledge. "Science is very important. Always look forward to gaining knowledge. Change is constant. Everything around you keeps changing," he says. Ayushman's dream is to become a rocket scientist. "We are suffering on Earth with global warming.

The population is growing at a fast pace and we will need more space. We need to explore the habitability of other planets. I want to be part of that science exploration. I want to join NASA and after gaining enough experience, I will open my own space organisation in India," says an ambitious Ayushman.

Picture credit : Google 

An interview of young achiever Fariya Maryam (founder of Project Inclusion and Ayka - For The People)

Meet Fariya Maryam from Gurgaon, Haryana, founder of Project Inclusion and Ayka - For The People. These organisations have been working through art, volunteers, and workshops to help less privileged people in areas such as education, mental health, mentrual health, etc.

How did you embark on a journey of social work?

I've been interested in social work from a young age and excited about starting something new. It just so happened that started pursuing my interests in Class XI, during the pandemic. It all started with Project Inclusion, which I launched to raise awareness about mental health and neurodiversity. I think it was the pressure and mental health issues affecting so many people in the pandemic that pushed me to do something about it. I decided to make this a priority and started organising weekly support groups to help people deal with their mental pressures. Then, I started connecting with people with similar interests to broaden my initiative. Expanding my interests and skills in social work led me to start Ayka - For The People, an organisation that aspires to provide skill development opportunities and access to holistic education to less privileged children. We started with painting murals in rural areas and organising nationwide donation drives for the less privileged. Furthermore, I took a lot of interest in teaching subjects such as Maths and English. The progress the students made motivated me to continue my journey.

Tell us about your non-profit organisation. What kind of impact does it hope to create?

I founded Project Inclusion in 2020 with the aim of destigmatising mental health issues. We have been raising awareness about autism and learning disorders such as dyslexia, and for the last two years been working round the clock to provide free, accessible mental health resources to all strata of society. We offer weekly workshops on anxiety, depression, and stress, and have taken up the responsibility to connect a person in dire need of help with a mental health professional for a fee. Apart from that, we've been educating less privileged children about mental health to deal with the pressure of examinations, bullying, etc., and less privileged women about Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), a topic that menstrual hygiene workshops often don't cover. So our central aim is to educate people on significantly downplayed but important topics.

How do you perceive art?

Calling art a medium of expression is an understatement. It is the means through which you get the freedom to make something of your will and show it to a large audience. It's open to interpretation, that's the most unique thing about art that I love. I think my art is rebellious in the sense that I have made it my aim to break stereotypes and prejudices against marginalised groups of society. I believe that art has a voice of its own and I love raising awareness through art. I understand that my art may seem provocative, but that is not my intention.

What made you start Ayka - For The People.

I started Ayka when I was 15. I was painting the walls at my grandmother's in Jamshedpur, and our domestic help watched it in awe and wanted me to paint her house. Then, as word spread about the basic flower design I had painted, more and more people approached me to paint their walls. I started painting in several houses and then moved on to local schools wherein I created art on social and environmental issues. I also brought together a community of art students. We started painting murals and then went on to focus on improving the quality of education for less privileged children. We wanted to cultivate in students a sense of creativity. We started organising lessons on communication, art, and general knowledge. We are now around 500 people across the country, and have five branches: Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, and Bengaluru. So far, we've completed 50 wall paintings and a plethora of workshops. We are passionate about what we do. I believe when you start enjoying social work, the difference you can make is huge.

Any tips for fellow teens to keep a check on their mental health?

I'm not a professional, but I can share my experience. I think if you're not taking care of your mental health, then you're jeopardising your future. When I didn't pay heed to mental health, my productivity was plummeting. But mental well-being is not all that complex. It could be as simple as going out for a walk, taking care of a plant, or practising meditation and mindfulness. These things may come off as silly for teens, but trust me, they are important.

What are your future plans?

I'm planning to pursue a degree in health sciences followed by an MBA. I want to work on developing innovative and robust solutions to deal with mental health illnesses, and I think taking up an interdisciplinary subject that explores psychology, biology, and health will certainly help me in achieving my goals.

How do you manage your time?

I am always doing something or the other. I have a habit of writing down any pending tasks and completing them one by one until I'm done with all of them. I work when I have random bursts of energy and motivation, and do not prefer a timetable-like approach.

If there is something you'd like to change in society, what would that be?

Gende stereotypes. I want to break the patriarchal social construct in India. I think discrimination would never end but improvement is certainly possible through the younger generations. All genders must fight stereotypes together for the well-being of humanity. Many people think awareness campaigns on mental health wouldn't bring tangible results, but I think otherwise. I've helped many people who didn't even know they were struggling, and I would say mental health awareness has been instrumental in their ongoing recovery.

Picture Credit : Google 

AN INTERVIEW OF YOUNG ACHIEVER PRIYANKHA KAMALAKANNAN (AUTHOR OF THE BOOKS "THE POSITIVE POETRY CLOSET' AND "FANTASIA ADVENTURES")

This young author of the books "The Positive Poetry Closet' and "Fantasia Adventures" used the lockdown to hone her writing skills. She's also been a TEDx speaker. Priyankha Kamalakannan, living in Germany. She speaks about her journey.

How did your journey as an author start?

Writing started as a skill at school. One day, I randomly wrote a short story called The Bucket List Detectives'. My parents printed it as small booklets on my eighth birthday, and gave them as return gifts to guests. Everyone loved the story, and I was motivated by the appreciation I received. So, I wrote another story called 'Liana's Adventures In Wonderland. During the lockdown, I re-read my previous works and realised I could write them in a much better way. So I rewrote 'Liana's Adventures In Wonderland', which turned into a newly sculpted tale very different from the original story. Rewriting this story resulted in my first book, 'Fantasia Adventures.

Tell us about 'Fantasia Adventures' and 'The Positive Poetry Closet?

'Fantasia Adventures' is a fantasy book, where the main character is a girl called Lizzy who lives on an English farm and is very special to her grandmother. One night, when she thinks about her grandma, she magically lands in a place called Fantasia, a magical land where she meets a lot of different people. She learns about an evil queen who wants to destroy all the good. She, hence, decides to go on a mission to stop the evil queen and save Fantasia and its people. This is the plot of the story, and I sought help from my friend and added illustrations to make the book more interesting for readers.

My second book is The Positive Poetry Closet. I had numerous poems written and piled up, so I thought of compiling them into a book. I gave the book a fun title and published it.

How was your experience as a TEDx speaker?

When I was in Class III, my teachers used to play TED Talks on the smart board. When I was in Class IV, my school got a licence to conduct a TEDx speech, and my teacher allowed us to participate in it. Only a couple of people were selected, and I was surprised and happy that I was one of them. We had mentors and teachers who supported us, and to make it more impactful, we took instances from real-life for our talks. Not having notes and memorising the speech I wrote was what was keeping me from being distracted. The whole experience was thrilling.

How do you manage school and other work?

My writing started over the lockdown period, so most of my school work was done online during class. Our teachers didn't give us much work due to which there was a lot of leisure time, which I utilised for writing my books. Our school has a system where they don't give homework till Class VI, which made it simpler for me. Apart from the time I spend on my school work and writing. I take part in extra-curricular activities too. I also started my YouTube channel during this lockdown, where I shared videos of me spending time with my friends, doing crafts, experiments, baking, etc.

If something has to be changed in society, what would it be?

Irrespective of all the work we should accomplish, we must prioritise what we want to do and what we believe is important to us. It is also important that we spend quality time on the things we are passionate about, as it is important to share our abilities with everyone. In society, I wish to change the pivotal situation of how people are not being able to pursue their dreams and passion due to age boundaries. I would like to break these boundaries that are an obstacle to people from reaching their full potential. Many people of young and old age have been proving that age is just a number and that age shouldn't be used to question one's ability.

Picture Credit : Google 

AN INTERVIEW OF YOUNG ACHIEVER KANAV BATRA – CO FOUNDER OF FINZ ORGANISATION

Through his organisation Finz, this social entrepreneur is on a mission to raise awareness about the importance of financial literacy among Gen Z He also started the Workers' Rights Awareness Project and is part of Youth Policy Collective, focussing on research and writing. Kanav Batra speaks about his journey.

What is your organisation Finz all about?

Finz was established to educate Gen Z about personal finance, investing, entrepreneurship, and economics. With the help of a tailor-made curriculum, we provide courses that enrich students' financial acumen. We also provide an environment where Genz can gather real-life lessons along the way. At Finz, competitions are held for students to collaborate and compete. We will also conduct webinars with industry experts, college students, personal finance influencers, and youth entrepreneurs, and boot camps to reinforce what we teach through courses and mainstream learning instruments.

What made you a social entrepreneur?

Till I was in Class XI, I spent my time writing, reading, and just sticking with school. In Class XI, I felt there were many opportunities for students like me who wanted to become changemakers but didn't know how to. That's when I started pursuing my academic interests and hobbies outside of school too, starting my journey to becoming a social entrepreneur. Along the way, I saw many other young changemakers creating impact and bringing positive changes to society. This motivated me then, still does, and pushed me to be a social entrepreneur. To be fair though, my interests were always in economics, and this was one of the key reasons I started Finz with my friend Niranjen.

You set up WRAP - the Workers' Rights Awareness Project.

It is a social impact initiative that started with a team of nine other fellows as part of the Take the World Forward' Fellowship, a six-month programme by 'Learn with Leaders. Our motive is to improve the livelihood of daily wage workers by helping them become financially literate and spread awareness about programmes, policies, and organisations already in place to help them. Over the last couple of months, I underwent Social Impact and Leadership Training to nurture and grow WRAP as an organisation. We are commencing our move towards making WRAP an independent organisation away from the fellowship.

Tell us about your work in research, focussing on your time with Youth Policy Collective (YPC).

As part of the Economics and Trade Committee at YPC, I worked on the environmental economics and disaster management research paper, 'A Case-Study Based Analysis of the Implications of Natural Disasters on the Indian Agriculture Industry From 2000-2020. The premise of the paper and the journey of writing it were quite interesting. After a year of research, editing, and rewriting, it is now publicly available on Social Science Research Network. I am also working on two new papers with YPC, which I aim to finish in October. Outside of YPC, I am working on a behavioural economics paper surrounding consumer behaviour.

Do you think the youth of today will bring change in this entrepreneur world?

 I believe that in the next few years, there will be a changemaker in every house, and that changemaker will be a student. Students are now raising their voices by bringing more awareness to society. I strongly believe students will bring positive change and maybe one day provide a solution for our nation's problems.

What other projects are you involved in?

Under YPC, I'm also editor-in-chief of the newsletter and a member of the Steering Committee, which is essentially the top management of the organisation. I am the vice-president and one of the founding members of The Scribble Society, a creative writing dub that brings together budding writers into a community where they can publish and discuss written work. Recently, I helped organise a = writing competition on self-growth, which brought over 30 participants to compete for the top positions.

How do you manage your hobbies?

First of all, I'd like to say I am horrible at time management. Though, in contrast, I'm very committed to my work. No matter what time it is, I work and don't leave it until it is done. I think this is my best quality as it shows how much I love what I do. As for my hobbies, I am a big basketball fan; not only playing but I enjoy watching it too. I'm grateful to the sport as it helped me get better with things such as teamwork, leadership, perseverance, and resilience. Besides that, I also like writing. Writing is something I've been doing for a long time, and I feel that words have always helped me stay true to the storyteller in me.

Picture Credit : Google 

AN INTERVIEW OF YOUNG ACHIEVER VARUN ARORA - FOUNDER AND CEO OF VISARD.ORG

This Class XII student is the founder and CEO of Visard.org, a youth-run, not-for-profit that aims to empower small businesses through technology. Varun Arora speaks about his journey.

What fascinated you to learn about Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

When I was a kid, I was always engrossed in building new things and using my imagination to innovate. I first heard about Al when Intel conducted the Al for Youth programme and got selected for it. I did not have any idea about it, but decided to give it a try and I loved it. I was also intrigued, and so decided to pursue Al on a deeper level.

How was your experience at the Al for Youth programme?

It was a four-month-long programme, and at the end, we were asked to build a project that would be helpful to society in some way and contribute to the welfare of people. Recently, I had the opportunity to present my project to the CEO of Intel, and it was a phenomenal experience! Overall, the programme was beneficial and I consider it the turning point in my journey.

What was your project about?

An Al reading assistant, I made it for kids in the four to eight age group. It aims to develop essential skills in children without any increase in screentime.

You run an organisation called Visard.org.

Our organisation's main aim is to empower small businesses through technology. We do this through a range of initiatives, one of them being providing solutions such as creating websites for small business owners at rates lower than what many agencies charge. Apart from this, we have various other initiatives that cover areas such as support for artisans, educating/training business owners on tech tools, etc. We have impacted over 100 businesses and have helped small businesses save about Rs. 1 lakh. Additionally, the team size too has grown to over 25. The organisation is also backed by advisors who are alumni of reputed institutions such as Stanford, MIT, NYU, Microsoft, etc.

How do you manage your time between school and your organisation?

Due to the pandemic, my classes have been held online. It was a blessing in disguise because I was able to focus on my project and build my organisation. Once the physical classes start, the actual challenge will begin. But with proper time management and organisational skills, I think I will be able to balance everything.

When we talk about Al, the most pressing question is can humans be replaced by Al.

My answer would be a no. 1 would like to stress the fact that Al is just a displacement and not a replacement. I do agree that in some aspects Al does much better than us humans. We need to understand and accept the fact that it's going to replace humans in some jobs. But then again, certain jobs such as nursing can never be replaced by computers. For job security in the competitive world, we need to be aware of the latest technology. We need to realise that every day, we are one step closer to the point where humans and robots will coexist, and that this evolution will lead to our co-dependency.

What are your hobbies and interests?

I started cycling recently. With the pandemic locking us inside our homes, there hasn't been much activity on the road, so why not give cycling a go? I also collect ancient coins and currencies. Other than that, I have been quite busy with school and Visard.

What are your plans for the future? And what would you like to change in society?

My end goal is to be an entrepreneur. I realise that often when we start earning, we stop learning. But it shouldn't be so, because education gives wisdom too. Also, it is very important to apply what you learn in real life. For example, there is no use in learning to code if you never get to actually code. So the one thing I would like to change in society is the architecture of the Indian education system, which currently focusses more on theoretical concepts than practical application.

Picture Credit : Google